Wholeness and Purpose

I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do. But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it. So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me.  I gladly agree with the Law on the inside, but I see a different law at work in my body. It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body.  I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse?  Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I’m a slave to God’s Law in my mind, but I’m a slave to sin’s law in my body. ~Romans 7:18-25 (CEB)

Life is not a game I can win, and God is not a trophy I earn. No matter how “good” I am, I am not good enough for God. On the other hand, no matter how “bad” I am, I can never be outside of God. I can only hope in each thing I face to hold such a consciousness of God that no lesser gods can capture my attention nor can my self centeredness keep me away from the awareness that is the fullness of Life. It is the goal of life to come to a Wholeness, to experience a Purpose beyond all purposes, to come to the identification that my strength is Him.

Heavenly Father, help me with the ever present war that wages inside. Help me to come to a Wholeness and to experience a Purpose beyond all purposes. Help me to not be self-centered this day forgetting that it is You from which my strength comes from. Amen.

Ever mindful

We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28 (CEB)

“The more healing I experience, the more I understand one of the most magnificent truths of the Christian faith: God can turn our worst pain into the source of our giftedness.” ~From Ashes Transformed by Tilda Norberg

A little hope for this Saturday morning as we near the end of “Ordinary time” and begin to anticipate Christmas time. I sometimes need reminding that God takes my pain and loss and can use it for good if only I will let Him. In my restlessness, I need the reminder today that He is working in my life even when I do not presently see any evidence. The Holidays ahead are such a mixed time of blessing and sorrow, of things to look forward to or people to miss. As I anticipate gathering with family and friends in a couple of weeks  and  the celebrations of all that lies ahead may I ever remember to be present in the moment.

As we move closer and closer to the season of Thanksgiving and onto the Celebrations of Christ’s birth, may I ever be mindful of all You have done in my life O Lord. Amen.

God sings

Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem.~Zeph 3:14 (CEB)

Reading Zephaniah shows us that God pleads for us to turn to Him. He does not want our destruction. He wants us to come away from our self-willed path and find a road that leads to him.

Have you ever wondered what God is saying to you when you line your steps with his? Zephaniah 3 says this:

Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem. The LORD has removed your judgment; he has turned away your enemy. The LORD, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you will no longer fear evil. On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem: Don’t fear, Zion. Don’t let your hands fall. The LORD your God is in your midst— a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. I will remove from you those worried about the appointed feasts. They have been a burden for her, a reproach. Watch what I am about to do to all your oppressors at that time. I will deliver the lame; I will gather the outcast. I will change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth. (Zep 3:14-19)

He sings a song of joy and commands you sing too!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your songs of joy that You plant in our hearts for our day of return. I thank You that You are so willing to turn our ashes to joy, our suffering to purpose, and our pain to victory. Thank You for the calm you promise us if only we will look to You, our Hope and Redeemer. Ever guide my steps this day. Amen.

De-cluttering

“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full. ~Matthew 5:6 (CEB)

Most of my conflicts and difficulties come from trying to keep my spiritual and practical aspects of my life separate instead of realizing that they are part of one whole. If I practice a life that is centered on my own interests that are cluttered up by possessions, distractions of ambitions, passions of wants, worries, beset by a sense of my own rights and importance, anxiety for the future, or longing for success, I can not expect my spiritual life will be any different.

When I am anchored in God, then my spiritual life become simply a life where all I do comes from that relationship. Life becomes soaked through by a sense of this great movement of His will and soon I find my life has more order and less worries.

Center me this day Lord, not on self-importance or self-ambitions but on You. Amen.

Inner silence

Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God. ~Matthew 8:5 (CEB)

October can be so busy. I come to the end of it every time and wonder where it has gone off to. October 31st always finds me taking a deep sigh. Gone are the packed weekends. I even have these couple of weeks where I don’t feel so overly busy. Then Thanksgiving hits and I find myself running again.  At the end of such a busy time it seems good to remind myself of the need for silence… the inner kind of silence.

Inner silence is the absence of any sort of inward stirring thought or emotion, but it is complete alertness, openness to God. We must keep complete silence when we can, but never allow it to degenerate into simple contentment.

“Silence is the state in which all the powers of the soul and all the faculties of the body are completely at peace, quiet and recollected, perfectly alert yet free from any turmoil or agitation. A simile which we find in many writings of the Fathers is that of the waters of a pond. As long as there are ripples on the surface, nothing can be reflected properly, neither the trees nor the sky when the surface is quite still, the sky is perfectly reflected, the trees on the bank and everything is there as distinct as in reality.

Another simile of the same sort used by the Fathers is that of that as long as the mud which is at the bottom of a pond has not settled, the water is not clear and one can see nothing through it. These two analogies apply to the state of the human heart. ‘Blesses are the pure in heart for they shall see God’ As long as the mud is in motion in the water there is no clear vision through it, and again as long as the surface is covered with ripples there can be no adequate reflection of what surrounds the pond.

As long as the soul is not still there can be no vision, but when stillness has brought us into the presence of God, then another sort of silence, much more absolute, intervenes: the silence of a soul that is not only still and recollected but which is overawed in an act of worship by God’s presence; a silence in which, as Julian Norwich puts it, ‘Prayer oneth the soul to God’. ~From Living Prayer by Anthony Bloom

Heavenly Father, help me to quiet my soul this day so that I may reflect Your love to those around me. Settle the restlessness inside of me from too much activity. Quiet my heart so I may hear Your wisdom in the space. Amen.

 

Does God really care?

LORD, how long will I call for help and you not listen? I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you don’t deliver us. Why do you show me injustice and look at anguish so that devastation and violence are before me? There is strife, and conflict abounds. ~Hab 1:2-3 (CEB)

Often I find myself wrestling with questions. In reading the book of Habakkuk I find he is wrestling with some of the same things. His primary question to God is “Why does the Lord permit the righteous to suffer while the wicked prosper?” He has a series of questions and as he continues to raise these questions, the Lord responds. Habakkuk seems to be most concerned with how wicked people can even play a role in God’s work.

The time frame for this book is during the time of Israel’s defeat by the Assyrians and Judah’s oppression of those same Assyrians. The Assyrian rule was being felt greatly. Alliances were being made with other nations instead of turning to God. Habakkuk’s vision declares that this practice of trusting in human power and strength would ultimately lead to defeat. Habakkuk reminds Judah that the righteous live by faith.

In the ensuing conversation that Habakkuk has with God, he learns that the question at stake is not how one is made righteous but rather how the righteous might face evil’s apparent domination. He begins to realize that the question at stake is rather how the righteous might face evils apparent domination. “For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.” (2:3-4) The prophet’s vision emphasizes trust in God despite circumstances. At an appropriate time, an answer will come; in the meantime, the righteous will continue to trust in God.

From Habakkuk’s honest dialog comes a hope based not on visible circumstances but in God, who ultimately triumphs over evil and all of its manifestations. I too can say despite not knowing what tomorrow holds, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.” (3:18-19)

Lord, help me find my security in You, not in my present circumstances. As long as my eyes are on You I have the faith needed to know that You will ultimately triumph over evil. Amen.

As the river flows

After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.” ~Mark 8:34-37

“Spirituality is about seeing. It’s not about earning or achieving. It’s about relationship rather than results or requirements. Once you see, the rest follows. You don’t need to push the river, because you are in it. The life is lived within us, and we learn how to say yes to that life.” ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Today I am going to try to not swim against the current. Today I am going to rest and let the river do the work. When I try to get places by my own power, I just wear myself out. I think I will lay back and see just where this river takes me.

Heavenly Father, You say in Your Word that Your yoke is easy and Your burdens are light. Help me to make the right choices this day so I can step out in faith and not feel overly weighed down. Help me to flow better with the currents of life so that I can look up and see Your glory around me. Amen.

Transformed

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. ~Luke 24:28-35 (CEB)

There are many references to people in the Bible who have felt forsaken or alone. Quickly scanning books like Job, Lamentations and some of the Psalms finds people with these feelings. Jesus too experienced that feeling of forsakenness. But Jesus was able to move from that forsaken lost place to feeling the confidence of a beloved child of God. The resurrection becomes the final proof that God can be trusted.

“Jesus’s journey from that forsaken feeling to confident trust gives hope to us in our times of loneliness and fear of being forsaken. If the theologians are right and God never does forsake us, we can remind ourselves frequently of God’s presence. Establishing a way of life that intentionally makes us present to God is one way of removing the feeling of God’s absence. Regular times of prayer and regular times of corporate, worship offer opportunities with the One who made us and loves us.” ~Rueben P. Job

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your word. I thank You for sending Jesus into this world. May I model my life after his in all I say and do. Give me the strength to also say “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Amen.

Prayer and worship

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat. ~Psalm 19:1-6 (CEB)

We have lost the sense of the sacred in what we do. Every act we do can be a form of prayer. Fixing dinner can be prayer. When I smile, that can be a prayer. Painting a picture or singing a song that can also be a prayer. When I do anything that brings joy to the Creator of the world, it is a prayer. It is a sacred act. Often we forget that the ordinary daily movements of life can be sacred.

Also taking notice of He’s creation around me can also be a form of worship. When I notice the changes of light with the time of the day or the season; the suddle colors of the hours before sunset as they change to amber and gold then into the darker shades of night… the songs of the birds, the wind on my face…   Every time I stop and notice I can feel the tension release from my stomach, my shoulders relax and my thoughts clear. For that one moment in time when I say “Ahhhh…”, I worship the One who created that ever changing scenery.

May I not be too busy this day to be in worship and prayer, O Lord. May I recognize the sacred in each moment of this day. May I not forget to see Your wonders around me. May I ever be thankful for the simple moments in live. Amen.

Every situation

If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. ~James 5:13-14 (CEB)

Every situation calls for some response. These verses in James remind us that we respond to every situation in some way that will bring God’s power and blessing to our present situation.

I need to remind myself daily that I do not have to bear any of my moments alone. God wants both my happy moments and my sad moments. He can bless my every moment.

Bless my every moment this day O Lord. Wow me with Your presence. Be my peace in the chaos, my joy in the quiet. Amen.

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